AKRON, Ohio – United Way of Summit & Medina celebrated its annual Knight Breakfast event at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn. The event, which serves to kick off the annual United Way campaign, followed a groundbreaking for the Sojourner Truth Plaza the previous evening. Set to be the first historic site in the State of Ohio honoring a Black woman, the plaza will commemorate Sojourner Truth’s historic speech at the Old Stone Church on High Street in 1851, since remembered as “Ain’t I a Woman?” United Way will open part of its offices adjoining the plaza as a community space for educational programming and public gatherings.
Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and senior vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was the featured speaker at the Knight Breakfast. Leggs has worked with local organizations, including United Way of Summit & Medina and the Knight Foundation, to help make the Sojourner Truth Memorial Plaza a reality.
Leggs spoke of the work of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, pointing out that only 2 percent of historic preservation projects are of historic Black sites. He spoke of the importance of preserving history as a means of promoting equity and acknowledging the contributions of African Americans to our cultural heritage.
Laying out his vision for the 2022 United Way campaign, campaign chair Whitt Butler emphasized the important work the organization is doing by directly serving Summit and Medina County residents. He encouraged those attending to see firsthand how United Way programs – like the Family Resource Centers in Akron Public Schools and the Financial Empowerment Center operating in Summit and Medina counties – are helping residents find lasting stability and success.
“Whether you’re a donor, a volunteer, or simply someone who is learning about United Way for the first time, I encourage you to see for yourself how we are walking side by side with those who need us the most. There are so many opportunities to see how we are working in the community, with the community and for our community.”
United Way of Summit & Medina president and CEO Jim Mullen concluded the event by highlighting the transformative nature of his organization’s work. United Way of Summit & Medina is committed to serving local residents directly and is working to build a system that is easier for those seeking help to navigate. This system will place clients at the center of a network of supportive services with the assistance of a United Way care coordinator.
“When Sojourner Truth freed herself from slavery, she did it alone, while carrying her infant daughter Sophia on her back,” said Mullen. “I cannot help but think of those in our community today carrying similar burdens, too often without help. It is our responsibly to help carry some of their weight. Writing a check isn’t enough. If we want to create true justice and equality in our community, we’re going to have to do the work.”
About United Way of Summit & Medina
United Way of Summit & Medina takes on the issues that matter most to children and families. We
pursue Bold Goals through forward-thinking strategies, innovative programs and hands-on work in our community. We team up with private and public leaders, local businesses and thousands of volunteers from across our community to create change that matters. Learn more at uwsummitmedina.org.
Contact: Andrew Leask
Associate Vice President
Marketing & Brand Management